Three employees at a Regina nursing home that was at the centre of a recent controversy are speaking out today, describing Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home as a troubled place with bad food that has failed to make needed improvements.
At the Legislature Monday, the Saskatchewan New Democrats were again discussing conditions at Santa Maria, the home where Margaret Warholm lived until her transfer to hospital last fall and death three days later.
Three care home aides, who have requested that their names not be published out of fear they might be fired, disputed claims that Santa Maria staff have had some retraining and that things have changed for the better in the year since Warholm died.
They said there has been no change in policies or procedures since Warholm’s death.
They say short-staffing means residents get a bath roughly once every two weeks and sometimes have to wear soiled bandages for extended periods.
“We’ve always been overworked I feel,” Sue (not her real name) said.Â
“Working short â€” probably in the last year â€” before that it was never, ever heard of,” Sue said. “We never, ever worked short. Lately it’s just an everyday occurrence.”
As a consequence, elderly residents don’t get cared for properly, she said.
Another worker, Anna (not her real name), said the quality of the food being served to residents is also a major concern.
“The food is like leftover food on a daily basis,” she said. “What they have for breakfast, they’re going to have it for lunch. And when they have something for lunch, the left over is for supper. Residents don’t eat that, there is lots of waste.”
The women also said the inability to spend time with each patient is an ongoing problem.
“We can’t even spend 10 minutes with the residents, like one-on-one,” Jenny (not her real name) said. “They need to do something, not just sitting in a chair all day or looking at the walls.”
The case of Warholm, 74, who died Oct. 6, 2013, was raised by the NDP in the legislature last week.
Her children believe she died prematurely at least in part because of the treatment she received in the home.
The NDP has produced a letter from 49 Santa Maria staff members expressing concerns.
The pain in Nancy Macfarlane’s voice echoed off the marble pillars in the legislature’s rotunda as she talked about the 30-centimetre bedsore that her late mother, Margaret Warholm, had acquired in Regina’s Santa Maria Senior Citizens’ Home.
“If we had known how bad her back really was, we would have done something,” a tearful Macfarlane said Wednesday, referring to the raw fleshy bedsore she photographed after her mother was admitted to the Regina General Hospital. “But we weren’t told until we saw it in the hospital.”
That was three days before the 74-year-old Warholm – malnourished and weighing 89 pounds, according to her medical report – died on Oct. 6, 2013 Many see the Saskatchewan legislature as a place of anger, sanctimony, studious reflection or maybe even frivolity. But the often-overlooked emotion – especially present in the rotunda when woeful tales like
Margaret Warholm’s are retold into the microphones of reporters – is sadness.
Health Minister Dustin Duncan’s problem is that he has virtually asked to take ownership of every sad tale like that of Warholm.
She had been a Santa Maria resident for two years, having transferred from a long-term care home because of her spinal stenosis. Her pain and mobility issues were so severe she could no longer feed herself or even turn over in bed.
Besides the sorrow and the feeling of guilt that there had to be something more they could have done to ease the suffering their mother endured in her final days, Warholm’s children brought a lot of anger to the legislature.
They are angry over both the medical care and staff at Santa Maria – the latter of whom, the family said, did not pay enough attention to their mother and weren’t forthright about her bedsores. Warholm’s medical records show she had recent spinal fractures – possibly from a fall.
Santa Maria’s executive director admitted earlier this month that “a number of matters related to the care of Mrs. Warholm should have been better managed.”
But the reason Warholm’s children were at the legislature Wednesday was to express their anger toward Duncan. “He failed us,” Leanna Macfarlane said.
Admittedly, such sadness and anger expressed towards the minister can be misplaced. This is somewhat the case for Warholm’s family.
Duncan surely cannot be personally blamed for the specific treatment Warholm received in Santa Maria. Moreover, it was Duncan who first suggested the case be investigated by the provincial ombudsman and on Thursday morning he wrote to the ombudsman requesting a formal investigation. Duncan was respectful, sympathetic and professional Wednesday, unlike unhelpful caucus colleagues Nancy Heppner and Doreen Eagles, who heckled in the chamber that this case was all about “creating drama”. Those heckles presumably were aimed at the NDP Opposition, which raised the issue, but Warholm’s family thought they were aimed at them.
But Duncan is also the minister who told us a year ago – after ordering health district CEOs to tour every nursing care facility in the province – that what was subsequently reported was unacceptable and not the kind of treatment he would expect for his own loved ones.
Yet his government’s response was a mere $10 million for emergency funding (the districts requested $18 million) last fall and there was no additional money in the spring budget.
What is wrong with Nancy Heppner that she would say that a grieving family was in the Legislature â€œcreating dramaâ€. Â Really Ms. Heppner and Ms. Eagles? Â Their mother died because of neglect from a provincially funded nursing home. Â Has politics made you so bitter that every single time someone has a problem with the provincial government that you think it is partisan ploy? Â That heckling sickened me. Â
Sometimes governments fail their citizens. Â It happens under Progressive Conservative, CCF, NDP, Liberal and even Saskatchewan Party governments. Â When it involves the death of someone in your care, you donâ€™t heckle, you take responsibility and fix the problem. Â If you canâ€™t do that, itâ€™s probably time to retire.